Rania was built in 1937 by the Rampart Boat Building works in Southampton. Just before delivery in 1939, however, she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and took part in the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, when many small British craft sailed across the Channel to rescue the British Expeditionary Force – and army of 400,000 or so.
This astonishing exercise took place in perfect millpond conditions (see the images of this event at the Rania site, and see Wikipedia for more on the fighting and evacuation). She continued to serve in the ‘Mosquito navy’ for the duration of the war.
She is now in real need of help. Rania has been dismantled and is in urgent need of repair; she has been saved by the Dunkirk Little Ship Restoration Trust but unfortunately the funds are not available – nevertheless her supporters wish to restore her to her original condition and return her to Dunkirk in 2010 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuations.
For more on Rania, and some very evocative music:
ST Kerne was originally built in 1913 and named Viking but even before she was launched, she was sold to the Admiralty and re-named the Terrier and went to work in Chatham and on the Medway.
She then went in 1948 to J P Knight who operated her on the Medway for another year under her new Gaelic name Kerne before being sold on again to a firm in Liverpool where she worked as a lighterage tug until her retirement in 1971.
During 1970 and 1971 a group of steam enthusiasts bought Kerne before she went for scrap and restored her. She is now an extremely rare example of the once common estuarial-dock tug and a living reminder of early 20th century naval architecture.
For more on ST Kerne:
Built by James Weir of Arbroath, the Isabella was launched on the 15th September 1890. With an overall length of 45ft, 13ft 9in beam and a draught of 6ft, the vessel was built for line and drift-net fishing, and powered by two big lug sails, a jib and five oars.
In 1919 a 15hp Kelvin engine was fitted but by 1928 greater power was needed for seine-netting and a Kelvin K2 44hp engine was installed. This was upgraded again in 1932 when a Kelvin K3 66hp engine was fitted, and this engine continues to power the boat today. At that same time the name was changed to Fortuna.
In 1997 the Wick Society bought the boat, which by this time had been renamed Isabella Fortuna. A pictorial record of the vessel and the restoration is available from The Wick Society link below.
The Isabella Fortuna is normally berthed in Wick Harbour but during the winter she is housed in the old Lifeboat Shed on the South shore of Wick Bay. With a voluntary crew the vessel visits ports for festivals and other sea-based events. By the way, there really are coracles (tiny skin boats) in the photo below…
Wick Heritage Museum site:
Isabella Fortuna at the Caithness Community website:
If you can add to this story – perhaps links to more photos, details of the restoration or the boat’s history – please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .